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[en] The letters collected in this focus issue of Environmental Research Letters on ‘Environmental, socio-economic and climatic changes in Northern Eurasia and their feedbacks to the global Earth system’ represent the third special issue based on the results of research within the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI: http://neespi.org) program domain. Through the years, NEESPI researchers have presented a diverse array of articles that represent a variety of spatial scales and demonstrate the degree to which abrupt climatic and socio-economic changes are acting across Northern Eurasia and feed back to the global Earth system. (synthesis and review)
[en] Recent efforts to promote a transition to a low carbon economy have been influenced by suggestions that a low carbon transition offers challenges and might yield economic benefits comparable to those of the previous industrial revolutions. This paper examines these arguments and the challenges facing a low carbon transition, by drawing on recent thinking on the technological, economic and institutional factors that enabled and sustained the first (British) industrial revolution, and the role of ‘general purpose technologies’ in stimulating and sustaining this and subsequent industrial transformation processes that have contributed to significant macroeconomic gains. These revolutions involved profound, long drawn-out changes in economy, technology and society; and although their energy transitions led to long-run economic benefits, they took many decades to develop. To reap significant long-run economic benefits from a low carbon transition sooner rather than later would require systemic efforts and incentives for low carbon innovation and substitution of high-carbon technologies. We conclude that while achieving a low carbon transition may require societal changes on a scale comparable with those of previous industrial revolutions, this transition does not yet resemble previous industrial revolutions. A successful low carbon transition would, however, amount to a different kind of industrial revolution. - Highlights: ► Investigates lessons for a low carbon transition from past industrial revolutions. ► Explores the implications of ‘general purpose technologies’ and their properties. ► Examines analysis of ‘long waves’ of technological progress and diffusion. ► Draws insights for low carbon transitions and policy.
Purpose of ReviewThe relationship between climate change and violent conflict has been the subject of intense academic as well as policy debate over the past few decades. Adverse economic conditions constitute an important channel linking the two phenomena. Here, I review the theoretical arguments and recent empirical evidence connecting climate-driven adverse economic conditions to conflict.
Recent FindingsClimate-induced adverse economic conditions could lead to conflict by lowering the opportunity cost of violence, weakening state capacity, and exacerbating political and economic inequalities/grievances. The empirical literature does not provide robust evidence for a “direct” climate-economy-conflict relationship.
SummaryRecent empirical research offers considerable suggestive evidence that climate-driven economic downturns lead to conflict in agriculture-dependent regions and in combination and interaction with other socioeconomic and political factors. Future research should further examine the context(s) in which climate-induced adverse economic conditions led to conflict, and also identify and test the precise empirical implications of the theoretical mechanisms through which these adverse economic conditions lead to conflict using disaggregated data and appropriate estimation procedures.
[en] Aim of the study: Thinning experiments in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands have been carried out since long in different regions of its distribution. The aim of this paper is to gather the knowledge about the thinning effects on Scots pine stands, from the effects on growth and yield to the provision of ecosystem services in the framework of climate change. Area of study: The review covered studies from different regions of the distribution area of Scots pine Aim of the study: Thinning experiments in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands have been carried out for many years in different regions of its distribution. The aim of this paper is to gather knowledge regarding the effects of thinning on Scots pine stands, from the effects on growth and yield to the provision of ecosystem services in the context of climate change. Area of study: The review covers studies from different regions of the distribution area of Scots pine Material and methods: We reviewed the effect of thinning on four aspects: growth and yield, stability against snow and wind, response to drought, and ecosystem services. Main results: Heavy thinning involves a loss in volume yield, although the magnitude depends on the region, site and stand age. Thinning generally does not affect dominant height while the positive effect on tree diameter depends on the thinning regime. The stability of the stand against snow and wind is lower after the first thinning and increases in the long term. The impact of extreme droughts on tree growth is lower in thinned stands, which is linked to a better capacity to recover after the drought. Thinning generally reduces the wood quality, litter mass, and stand structural diversity, while having neutral or positive effects on other ecosystem services, although these effects can vary depending on the thinning regime. However, scarce information is available for most of the ecosystem services. Research highlight: Existing thinning experiments in Scots pine stands provided valuable information about thinning effects, but new experiments which cover a broad range of ecosystem services under different site conditions are still needed.
[en] Highlights: • Development of indices to identify and compare urban FEW nexus. • Monitoring, planning and managing the urbanization process in FEW nexus sectors. • Operationalization and integration of equity in the FEW nexus analysis. • Decision support for urban institutions for the development of political measures. - Abstract: Current global developments put increasing ecological, economic and social pressures on urban systems. The density of urban areas concentrates these pressures especially on food, energy and water (i.e., the FEW nexus) resources as if in a ‘burning glass’. The ability to confront these challenges significantly depends on the resilience of an urban area, which is to a large degree managed by institutions with the objective of protecting social cohesion and minimizing ecological pressure. Urbanization and climate change, however, strain social cohesion by exacerbating social vulnerabilities and disproportionately affecting those already marginalized. Justice and equity are thus essential preconditions for the development of resilient urban concepts and must be considered in a comprehensive nexus management approach. For this purpose, two indices are developed based on the UN-Habitat City Prosperity Index, with a specific focus on integrating the nexus-relevant indices (i.e., the infrastructure development index and the environmental sustainability index) with a weighted equity index. The World and Region Prosperity City Index (WCPI, RCPI5) and the Nexus City Index (NXI) enable decision makers to more readily compare global and local city resiliences without reducing the underlying complexity of the analyzed FEW system.
[en] There is increasing evidence to suggest that adaptation to the inevitable is as relevant to climate change policymaking as mitigation efforts. Both mitigation and adaptation, as well as the unavoidable damage occurring both now and that is predicted to occur, all involve costs at the expense of diverse climate change victims. The allocation of responsibilities - implicit in terms of the burden-sharing mechanisms that currently exist in public and private governance - demands recourse under liability law, especially as it has become clear that most companies will only start reducing emissions if verifiable costs of the economic consequences of climate change, including the likelihood of liability, outweigh the costs of taking precautionary measures. This vitally important book asks: Can the precautionary principle make uncertainty judiciable in the context of liability for the consequences of climate change, and, if so, to what extent? Drawing on the full range of pertinent existing literature and case law, the author examines the precautionary principle both in terms of its content and application and in the context of liability law. She analyses the indirect means offered by existing legislation being used by environmental groups and affected individuals before the courts to challenge both companies and regulators as responsible agents of climate change damage. In the process of responding to its fundamental question, the analysis explores such further questions as the following: (a) What is the role of the precautionary principle in resolving uncertainty in scientific risk assessment when faced with inconclusive evidence, and how does it affect decision-making, particularly in the regulatory choices concerning climate change? To this end, what is the concrete content of the precautionary principle?; (b) How does liability law generally handle scientific uncertainty? What different types of liability exist, and how are they equipped to handle a climate change liability claim?; (c) What type of liability is best suited for precautionary measures or a lack thereof? Can the application of the precautionary principle make a difference to the outcomes of climate change liability claims? In order to draw conclusions concerning the legal uncertainties posed by climate change, the author draws examples from national legislations representative of the various legal systems, as well as from existing treaties. General rules and obligations relevant to climate change liability are examined, and a selection of actual legal cases from around the world concerning climate change, be it actual liability claims or litigation indirectly relevant to a claim, is also presented. As an overview of the different legal challenges created by climate change liability, this book is without peer. The practical meaning and impact of these findings for lawyers (whether corporate or activist), for regulators and policymakers, and for decision-makers in governmental bodies and private companies is immeasurable.
[en] As a year has half passed by now, we might look back and consider the frailty of human nature. Besides natural and human made hazards and disasters, the continuous pressure of food insecurity is heightened by the more and more evident effects of climate variability and change. Amongst others, a change in climate would have an effect on the world's vegetation zones. An increase in temperature would affect species composition and thus affect ecosystems. Up to two thirds of the world's forests would undergo major changes, deserts would become hotter, and desertification would extend and become harder to reverse. A change in the boundaries between grassland, forest and shrublands would occur. This change in vegetation zones could cause famine in arid areas such as Africa that depend on a certain type of crop. This could cause an increased population pressure on urban and peri-urban zones due to the exodus from afflicted arid rural regions. The range of pests could also change if the vegetation changed. This could bring about an increase in disease levels. Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Temperatures are rising, glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted, trees are flowering sooner, landscapes are changing also due to massive land erosion, there is an increased risk of drought, fire and floods, stronger storms cause increased storm damage and more heat-related spreads of diseases and pests put (agro-)biodiversity at risk and cause economic losses. Consequently, the concern about sustainable food security is a red thread leading through this issue of our Newsletter. In this issue, you will find some of our modest contributions to consolidate food security under the pressure of climate change.